March 18, 2008 09:18 ET

Hip-Hop Mogul and Philanthropist Russell Simmons to Keynote JCK Las Vegas

Industry Gurus Martin Rapaport, Shane Decker and a Panel of Experts From Jewelers of America Will Also Lead Keynote Discussions

NORWALK, CT--(Marketwire - March 18, 2008) - JCK Las Vegas 2008 will kick off with an exciting keynote presentation featuring Hip-Hop Mogul and Philanthropist Russell Simmons with a Q&A session moderated by Martin Rapaport. USA Today recently named Russell Simmons one of the "Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years," calling him a "hip-hop" pioneer for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, finance, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy. Simmons, along with Kimora Lee Simmons and Scott H. Rauch, founded the Simmons Jewelry Co. in 2004, and in 2006 went to South Africa and Botswana to see how diamonds were positively affecting the lives of Africans. He then created the non-profit organization, Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.), to help Africa, sensitize the diamond industry to the plight of Africans and to raise funds for educational empowerment initiatives in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. In an effort to support D.E.F.'s mission, Simmons Jewelry Co. created the Green Initiative Collection of jewelry and its "Green Bracelet" -- which is giving back to Africa.

"We have a phenomenal line up of keynotes speakers, and are thrilled to welcome Russell Simmons to JCK," remarked Dave Bonaparte, Group Vice President, JCK Events. "We know that JCK attendees look forward to the keynote presentations, and we know that Russell Simmons will provide a great start to the Show followed by industry gurus Martin Rapaport, Peggy Jo Donahue and Shane Decker who will each provide the retailers with a great insight into the marketplace," added Bonaparte.

On Saturday, May 31, Jewelers of America will host an Executive Roundtable Discussion: "Retailer-Supplier Relationships: Changing Expectations," that will start at 8:30 a.m. Panelists will include Michael Rae, CEO, Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices and John Hall, Rio Tinto Diamonds. The moderator will be Peggy Jo Donahue, Director of Public Affairs, Jewelers of America. In today's marketplace, retailers expect suppliers to achieve higher ethical, social and environmental standards because of issues like conflict diamonds, "dirty gold," and "blood rubies." This roundtable of panelists, including both suppliers and retailers, will discuss how the growing responsible practices movement in the jewelry industry is affecting retailer-supplier relationships. Panelists will also discuss potential risks and benefits.

During an afternoon Luncheon Keynote Address on Saturday, May 31st, Shane Decker of Ex-SELL-Ence will present "Where Have All the Stores Gone?" Decker will discuss the reality of jewelry retail storefronts closing their doors today. He will coach retailers how to make changes in the way they do business to prevent this from happening to them.

On Monday, June 2 at 8:00 a.m. Martin Rapaport will give present the "State of the Diamond Industry." Rapaport will provide a fresh, energetic and provocative insight on global trends from sourcing to marketing to growing a business. This breakfast keynote will be followed by the Bankers Conference and Fair Trade Jewelry Conference. All events are open to all show participants on a first come first serve basis.

"This year's annual Rapaport Breakfast and Conference is especially important as the diamond and jewelry industry confronts volatile market conditions and the globalization of demand. We will share valuable information and analysis that will help firms compete and prosper. We are pleased to present our third annual Fair Trade Jewelry Conference which will promote industry action that will improve the lives of millions of artisanal diggers, who are among the poorest people in the world," said Martin Rapaport.

Prior to the opening keynote presentation, JCK Las Vegas event will kick off with a two-day extensive conference program on Wednesday, May 28 and Thursday, May 29 at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. The conference program will offer over 35 complimentary educational conference sessions presented by some of the industry's most revered experts. The education program will feature eight tracks covering Hot Topics and Trends; JCK Style: Where Fashion Meets Jewelry; Business; Diamonds; Gemstones and Pearls; eBusiness; Jewelers Notebook: Practical Advice for Jewelers; and J-Biz: Jewelers of America Industry Insights.


The series of JCK Events are produced by JCK, the leading producer of trade events in the fine jewelry industry. The JCK Events are designed to serve the worldwide jewelry industry by offering the most comprehensive and complete buying and selling opportunities on a business-to-business basis. Upcoming events include LUXURY and PREMIERE to be held Tuesday, May 27 - Thursday May 29, 2008 at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas; The 17th Annual JCK Las Vegas to be held Friday, May 30 through Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at the Sands Expo Center/Venetian Resort Hotel Casino; the 6th Annual Swiss Watch by JCK to be held May 30 through June 3, 2008 at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas; JCK New Delhi to be held July 4-6, 2008 at the Pragati Maidan Exhibition Centre in New Delhi, India; JCK Toronto to be held August 10-12, 2008 in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and LUXURY Bermuda to be held March 15-18, 2009 at the Fairmont Southampton Resort in Bermuda. For more information on any of the JCK Events, please visit us at or simply call 1-800-257-3626.

Contact Information

  • For additional information, contact:
    Amy Riemer
    Media Relations, JCK Events
    Email Contact